I had the pleasure of reviewing Duncan Millar's "Good to Go" as long ago as 2002 and it was good to catch up with 2012's "Fresh Air".

Millar has retained his ear for strong hooks and addictive rhythms and this is abundantly clear on the breezy title track, where piano takes the lead role. He's also comfortable with his Latin side and 'Buenas' is delightful - an elegant production which evokes warm sunshine, the beach, a cocktail, need I go on? The lovely samba 'Ilhabela' keeps that vibe going, and the trading of solos between electric piano, soprano sax and acoustic guitar certainly keeps me smiling.

The waltz 'As Lovers Do' is as pretty as it is moving. I hope that Mr Millar was not offended when I asked him did he write this - it has a nostalgic feel that made me believe it had been written 40, 50 or even 60 years ago, but no. It's an original piece which has won a place in my heart. It's just too good to analyse in detail - I just hope you hear it soon.

'Southern Sky' has such a relaxing tempo that you almost forget those minor chords and the bluesy feel that lies at the heart of it. Millar solos like Joe Sample on acoustic piano and a gentle flute whispers its reply. Lovely. That same combination of beauty and longing is found in 'Autumn Mood', where the melody is doubled on electric piano and muted trumpet. Feel free to just drift away... If you're not already in your private heaven, 'Belmondo' will take you there. Piano and alto sax double up, and some superb rhythm guitar licks add a lovely retro feel.

My choice for radio airplay, for some while now, has been the urban 'Blue Cool'. Why? It's blue - and it's cool. Marcus Johnson fans should lend an ear to this. Think jazz tunes in 5/4 time are hard work? Not this one. Harking back to the Brubeck tradition, 'Subcontinental' uses this time signature as the framework for some nice solos and changes. Real jazz. The electric piano intro to the closer 'Get What you Give' could be lifted from many of the 60's best pop or soul records, but lay a tight rhythm down, bring in a backing vocalist and you have an uplifting, hook-laden dance record. I've done a little club DJing and I still dream of having a floor full of people getting crazy to a number like this.

It’s rare that you can listen to an album, like it, then go back to it weeks later and say “he got everything right”. That’s what I just did, though, and not only am I knocked out by the composition, performance and production on this record, I’m full of admiration for the fact that Mr Millar has released this on his own label.

I’ll be playing this all summer – and all next summer…


Warmday Records WD001 – Producer – Duncan Millar

Visit Duncan’s website